The next two months saw us packing up the condo and shipping all our belongings back to France. It was a milestone for us as a couple -- it's not me moving in with JL and it's not us moving from one condo to another within 3 km. We were moving out of Singapore, like, vacating! Liberating but not without stress. Till today I still believe our families must have thought that we've lost our marbles.
We spent a couple of weeks with JL's family in France and had already started our virtual recce of Harvard Square, apartments for rent, mobile phone service providers, home furnishing, etc. Our first evening upon arrival - July 10 - we walked on the streets and immediately I told the husband, "I feel comp-lete-ly at home already!". My ears were buzzing because of all the foreign languages we heard. Every other face we saw was somewhat Asian. Every other corner there was a street musician strumming and singing summer-y tunes.
Within the next five days, we secured our tenancy agreement for a tiny apartment down Brattle Street, next to Hi-Rise Café and a chocolate shop popular with tourists. Home was barely 700 sq ft that came with a fully equipped galley kitchen, one bedroom and one bath. Suddenly, we had personal accounts with Ikea, Crate&Barrel, Amazon and Walmart. And hey, there's even one with Peapod for our home-delivered groceries!
That first month in America, we wished our "world's local bank" had a local branch in Cambridge. The nearest HSBC as it turned out was in New York! So there: Citibank 1. HSBC 0. Our other "learning point" had something to do with a self-proclaimed "Ikea Guru" on Craigslist. We had to pay him not to touch anything and leave the apartment. Not quite the kind of experience one would expect from the land of the free. Fortunately though, we met some great born-and-bred Americans in the months ahead who remain good friends till today, despite the physical distance between us.